Florentine sculptor Francesco Fanelli was born 17 December.

By Martina Tanga

Florentine sculptor Francesco Fanelli was born 17 December. After having trained with Giambologna, Fanelli moved to London in 1610, and ended up spending most of his career living in England. His dynamic bronze sculptures quickly caught the eye of King Charles I of England and, as of 1635, Fanelli began receiving a pension as “sculptor of the King.” Fanelli is listed in the King’s royal documents as “Francisco the one-eyed Italian.” This annotation is intriguing, as scholars know little about his life and how he apparently lost his eye. Right at this time Fanelli rendered the king with a delicately regal expression in a portrait bust. Working for the King, Fanelli had the opportunity make high profile public sculptures. He is credited for having completed the bronze ungilded sculptures that surround the Diana Fountain in Bushy Park, London. While Fanelli’s French rival Hubert Le Sueur created the statue of Diana, Fanelli designed and cast the nymphs that are the source of the waterjets. Fanelli left England in 1642 as the English Civil War began and the monarchy took refuge in Paris. Not much is known of Fanelli after that, not even the exact date of his death, however scholars speculate that it cannot have been later than 1663. Many of Fanelli’s sculptures can now be found in the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.


Bust of King Charles I, 1634–1636, bronze, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

Nymphs, Diana Fountain, ca. 1630s, bronze, Bushy Park, London.

Hercules and the Snakes, c. 1640, bronze, Part of the collection ‘The bronzes’ of the Museum Boijmans van Beuningen, Rotterdam

Statuette, c. 1640, bronze, Victoria and Albert Museum, London

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